The Road Runs West
"You know, Thomas, people make me so sick always bellering about roads and such things, when life should be simple and enjoyable."
"Let's turn back. This ain't my idea of a good time either."
"Hell, no. We'd just have to listen to another lecture about progress like the last one. We better line up this road some way and get it over with."
"Ya, I guess so. See that mountain over there? We gotta hit the low side. Line it up with Anahim Peak and we got it made."
"Sure. All this talk about west and compasses makes a hell of a lot of hot air if you ask me. You make the first blaze. When you're blazing I'll pass you and we should make out that way."
Darkness caught them in a swampy opening. They staked the horses while the packer made camp. They had covered thirteen miles of unmarked wilderness and had another twenty to go. The sleeping bags were thrown on top of their chaps and covered with damp mantles. There wouldn't be much time for sleeping anyway. Rain still drizzled down. The camp was silent.
At daylight Lester and Thomas looked out from their sleeping bags. The forms of the four horses were barely visible. It was time to get going. They reached for their boots, plunked on their hats and were ready for the day of engineering. By the time the horses were saddled and fed oats, the packer had food ready and they were off.
The rain has stopped but the trees were still dripping and before long the trail blazers were soaked. They increased their speed to cover the given area, and the packer was left miles behind to follow the newly made blazes. The drizzle started again and the mountains were completely hidden. The cowboys sharpened their axes, ate a damp sandwich, rolled a smoke and meditated.
"Maybe I had better climb a jackpine and see how the country looks."
Thomas looked the landscape over for the largest tree, settled for one and slowly removed his chaps.
"Wonder where the hunters are. They should be nearly at Anahim by now and I haven't even gotten my horses ready." He stopped talking until he reached the top of the tree, then he removed his hat and waved in the direction of the mountain he had hoped to see and he smiled. Through the mist he had located his landmark. They were in business again.
They skirted bog holes, jumped windfalls, climbed the rocky ridges and blazed the trees from their horses; but when darkness came they had reached their goal, and the open stretch of Saddle Horse Meadow lay before them.